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Environmental Certification

Today’s shoppers have to contend with an ever-increasing plethora of green logos and claims. The trick is to distinguish between self-proclaimed green products and those that are “certifiably” green.

So-called “self-declared environmental claims” encompass all product manufacturer allegations unsubstantiated by a third party. They are not officially validated, and can therefore create some confusion for consumers. They can also be unreliable.

The value of an environmental claim rests on the assurance that the information provided is credible, objective and easy for consumers to understand. Environmental certifications provide that assurance, unlike self-declared environmental claims. In addition to simplifying life for shoppers, environmental certifications are also good for manufacturers, because they establish rules for everyone to follow and standardize the terminology used.

The only environmental certification officially recognized in Canada to date is EcoLogo. The logo with the leaf for products sold on the Canadian market and the half moon logo for products sold outside the Canadian market.

Founded in 1988 by the Government of Canada, the EcoLogo Program certifies environmental products and services in over 120 categories, including cleaning products. To achieve certification, products and services must meet an extensive series of criteria in their category. EcoLogo certification is not mandatory, but more and more green-minded consumers look for the logo as a mark of the environmental leadership of a product or service.

It should be noted that EcoLogo certified products are also tested for performance. So essentially, when you choose an EcoLogo certified product, you are opting for a green product that has also proven itself to be effective.

The EcoLogo Program is recognized worldwide. It is reviewed by the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) and complies with ISO 14024 ecocertification standards.

In the cleaning product industry, there are two other major certifications that can apply internationally, i.e. Europe’s Eco Label and the U.S.’s Design for the Environment (DfE).

Overall, the requirements of each of these programs share the same objectives, i.e.:

  • reducing impacts on aquatic life
  • prohibiting the use of hazardous substances
  • biodegradability in 28 days
  • working at least as effectively as competing non-green products

There are of course numerous other environmental logos and green certification programs beyond those intended for cleaning products, e.g. Green Seal and EcoCert.

For wood, paper and cardboard, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies products that meet the appropriate forest management principles and criteria. Click here to learn more about FSC certification.